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S is for September

“Autumn seemed to arrive early that year. The first of September was as crisp and golden as an apple” Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows JK Rowling.

My daughter returns to school today for the first time in almost six months. The first of September – I’ve just learnt is also the day when readers celebrate Harry Potter going to Hogwarts. We’re big Potter fans in this house so it is quite apt that it’s the same day – this never happens – schools in Leicester are usually back a few days earlier – but everything is a little bit different at the moment. The first of September seems like a good day to start a new term a new beginning.

I’m somewhat apprehensive I must admit, but I couldn’t be more reassured by the measures her school have put in place and I’m pleased to know that some sense of normality is returning for many of us.

I’m typing away very content to be back in my little study that had been recommissioned as my husband’s office as he worked from home and I’m pleased to return our dining table back to its intended use having served us well as study and school room.

I sit at my desk, the house is quiet and I have the solitude I craved for months. I have my cup of coffee, a candle on and classic FM twinkles in the background. It is the perfect time for some reflection. Each season in my own writing and in the workshops I deliver I encourage a seasonal reflection, to think about what we are happy to let go of and what we are grateful for.

In thinking and reflecting – it’s been quite a spring and summer for us all hasn’t it? Probably the worst, most terrifying and concerning that any of us have ever encountered. Our normal lives stripped from us for a time, separate from family and friends and the whole world is crisis and turmoil. We all stayed at home.

Life is slowly returning to what it once was, however lockdown is still somewhat in force here in Leicester. There still can’t be visitors in our homes or gardens, indoor pools and dance schools remain closed and families still separated. There hasn’t been the grand opening of society that I yearning for, it’s all been rather slow and in dribs and drabs. In an effort to encourage normalcy before the return to school, as a family we’ve been for burgers in our local pub, and had a quiet trip to the cinema – normal things we used to do. It hasn’t been as exciting as I thought it might be – it’s all so different, booking ahead, it’s all more subdued and less spontaneous. I know it’s all for our safety but it’s all quieter, underwhelming, different and strange.

I was lucky enough to continue to work from home – transferring all my public facing workshops to delivery via zoom, whilst being able to home school my daughter and dedicate much of my time to her. As I reflect – I am grateful for this time I got to spend with her. Our little family of three were so busy, particularly my daughter – in a whirlwind of after school clubs, guides, dance lessons and music lessons, running, and for us as well as full time work, part time workshops, house chores, house renovation and our own activities any dedicated family time got lost in all of that . I’m so glad we had the opportunity to slow down and spend this time with her before she grew up too much – as normal life returns we’ve all resolved to spend more time together – Sundays on walks and tea at the table instead of in front of the TV (easy done) more board games and taking things a bit slower. This is something I’m taking from all this horrendousness.

September for me has always meant a new term, going back to school (even though I’ve not attended for 25 years!) it has always seemed a good time to start something new. A new season. Here’s to conker collecting, jumper wearing, apple eating, squash roasting, blanket curling up in …. autumn. Here’s to a new start – a new term.

A is for ASMR

Hello, how are you holding up during this unusual and strange time? I hope you are taking the chance to slow down, simplify and enjoy quiet moments.

A while ago I had an idea to write an A to Z of mindful moments blog series, where i’d share ideas and notes for finding a mindful moment or two, which I never got round to starting. I think it might be quite apt to begin it now … I hope you enjoy these suggestions and I’d welcome any of your ideas. So here we go…

A is for ASMR

ASMR – you may have heard of it, or you may experience it yourself. ASMR means Autonomous Meridian sensory response. It’s those tingles you get down your back when you are getting haircut, or a massage. Or perhaps it’s the shivers when someone is whispering to you, reading aloud or turning pages, playing with your hair, or it could be writing on paper sounds, or typing and tapping sounds.

It could be when you experience a really nice moment of customer service in a shop, someone packing a bag for you or perhaps some crinkling or humming sounds.

These tingles can come in waves or short bursts and can help with mindfulness, anxiety and falling asleep. I’ve experienced these tingles since I was a child without really knowing what they were or how they appeared. ASMR is the first thing I go to now if I need help falling asleep, or if I am in an anxious moment an ASMR video has been known to help calm me and ground me. It’s perfect for relaxing, whether you have an hour or only a few minutes.

There are many artists in the whispering community (as they call it) on You Tube all offering us a mindful moment or two, you just have to find the right trigger that works for you. I came to ASMR around seven years ago, we have an old house that needs a lot of work and at that time I had small toddler running about the place, so for some downtime I started watching organisational videos on You Tube, how to fold clothes, sort pantry cupboards and such, then one day I came across a towel folding one from an artist called “Gentle Whispering”. I watched it and had tingles galore.

The word ASMR was used a lot in her videos so I looked it up and thought “oh that is what it is?” the tingles and shivers I’d had since childhood. Watching Maria – Gentle Whispering Channel led me to another Channel – Whispers Red. Emma, whom I’m pleased to say I know IRL (in real life!).

A few years ago now I contacted Emma and we started corresponding – she’s lovely! We’ve chatted quite a bit and some time ago she commissioned me to write a mindful meditation for her ASMR Happens live event that was held in London in April 2017. This was followed up by another live event in San Francisco. You can follow the link here to read her blog about her live events.
Emma, when not working on her channel, or undertaking various collaborations, has two dogs, two children, a husband and a new book to promote Unwind your Mind – The life Changing Power of ASMR I caught up with her for a few moments to chat about it all.

How did you come to ASMR?
I have experienced the ASMR sensation my whole life. It has always been a part of my normal sensory experience. However I didn’t know there was a name for it and assumed that perhaps everyone experienced it, maybe it wasn’t important enough to have a name? It was a lovely experience though and I felt it all the time. Haircuts, eye test, having may hair played with, whispers in the playground etc.. I first discovered ASMR videos on youtube in November 2012. After a car accident and many operations I was struggling to sleep. I searched for nature sounds to play in the background but came across asmr. It took a while but then I realised this was a name for my feeling and I haven’t look back since!

What does it mean to you?
Nowadays ASMR means such a lot to me. I have lived it for the last 7 years since discovering it and becoming active in the asmr community online. ASMR means connection, kindness, mindfulness, calm, sleep, therapy, self discovery and so much more. The sensation is very calming and allows us to relax sufficiently enough to fall asleep. The videos are a way to trigger the feeling but also to connect with likeminded people all over the world. They really do bring people together from everywhere. 

You’ve written a book!! How did that come about?
At the beginning of 2019 I was contacted by Rider publishing, part of Penguin Random House. They wanted to see an introduction to ASMR on the book shelves but also a book that can serve as a way to explain how to utilise asmr in our daily lives. I have always spoken of ASMR as a mindfulness practise and have studied all aspects of it for many years so was very keen to take up the challenge. 

Current favourite triggers or artists?
My current favourite asmrtists are Bluewhisper & Somni Rosea for their voice and presence. I love a soft spoken kind voice, relaxing visuals and natural ambient sounds. My favourite triggers are light tapping, nature sounds and soft spoken voices and whispering. 

Next projects for you…

Years ago I began testing out various formats of live asmr and this year I continue to do that. I’ve just returned from delivering a workshop and live stage performance in Gold Coast Australia soons I will be launching an academy to train spa professionals in ASMR treatments which they can provide to their customers. I have also made an ASMR music album which will be released over the next few months called ‘Dream Away – Sleepy ASMR Songs’

You can find out more about Emma’s work on her You Tube Channel – Whispers Red ASMR

Thanks for reading and see you next time for another mindful moment.


S is for Solidarity

Hello All. How are you?

I dropped my daughter at school this morning for what might be her last day in her current year, I noticed the roads were quieter, less parents on the school run, less people around in general, all was more subdued. I took a slower walk home , instead of my usual head down, rushing to my study to begin my work from home, I took it slower and noticed people, all nodding and smiling at each other, being that little bit more friendly.

At this strange time, I’m heartened to see how we are all sticking together. In my small corner of Leicester, mutual aid groups have been set up, leaflets offering help posted through doors, local mums have set up facebook groups to help keep the children busy, our local pub is offering free soup, friends are posting school packs through my door and one lady from my Writing for Mental Health group has treated us all to a series of e books to read. I’m reading of singing on balconies in Italy and children in Spain putting up pictures and drawings in their windows. Small acts of kinds, simple things, simple pleasures its all amazing to see.

I’m currently flitting between concern and calm at the whole situation, with a few close family members working for the NHS, frontline and non-clinical – key workers – I am hearing of their daily reality now , elective operations cancelled and meetings postponed, hours of availablity required and the recall of those in retirement. I have always been thankful for the NHS and what they have done for me in my own life – but today more than ever… To the NHS superstars – thank you for all you are doing for us.

I get to spend extra time with my daughter, which we are both looking forward to. We have plans – we are going to bake, read, play, craft, learn about the planets, cloud spot and visit virtual museums. I am going to make this a positive experience for her and truly embrace this quiet time as society slows.

People are saying we are all banding together again, like in wartime – standing together and supporting one another. This can only be a good thing. We are being asked to hunker down and stay indoors, we can do this. We’ve got this.

Stay safe all. See you on the other side and soon this will all be a memory, a story.

W is for Worry

Hello, how are you?

I’m worried. I’ve woken up in the past week or so with a heightened sense of anxiety and nausea in the pit of my stomach. I probably don’t need to tell to you what’s on my mind, it’s the same thing that is concerning us all right now.

Speaking to a friend and fellow freelancer this morning she felt that there was a “weird energy about the place at the moment” and I completely agree with her. The world has changed for a time, it is a different place to what it was a month ago. It seems almost subdued and quieter. Smaller.

In wanting to be fully informed as this crisis develops I’m reading the news multiple times daily to check for updates and government advice. I’m worried about my family and friends who work in the NHS. I worry for family members who have cruises planned but not yet had them cancelled, I’m worrying about the old, the lonely and the vulnerable. I’m worrying about the possibility of schooling closing in the UK and the far reaching effect that would have, as this horrible virus blisters its way around the world.

 I’m reading of panic buying and horrible people stockpiling – in effect stealing from those who can only shop weekly. I’m reading of closures of schools and universities in France and Ireland, of the closures of top museums and art galleries, film screenings delayed, mass sporting events cancelled, Disneyland closing their doors and Italy in total lockdown.

On a local level, in my small world there are arts events, conferences and writers events all being cancelled or postponed, events that have been held for years stopping as we hunker down and try to do what we can and wonder how best to protect ourselves.

It’s being described as “the worst public health crisis for a generation” I wonder of the effect of the economy in the world as the world tries to contain the spread of the coronavirus. There are things I want to plan, write and workshops to prepare for but it seems rather futile at the moment.

I’m trying to keep an open mind, and a sensible mind, if only for the sake of my daughter. It’s tricky though as a freelancer and only seeing people at the school gates throughout the day it’s hard not to wish for a group of colleagues to support and to talk these things through. My husband who works in the NHS himself has been a calming influence and if my Grandma were here she’d tell me to stop worrying, wash my hands and carry on.

So I’m going to do what I always do when I don’t know what else to do, and that is write. I write my way through worry, grief, happiness, joy, anxiety, disappointment, stress, depression, I write to celebrate and to commemorate. I write to escape and to experience. I write it down. Write it out. I’m just going to keep writing, its all I know to do.

Thinking of you all out there. Take care of yourselves. Be kind.

I is for Imbolc

We here we are its finally February! We’ve crawled, tiptoed and dawdled through dreary January. A month that seems to have lasted a year.

I decided at the start of this year not to burden myself with resolutions and the whole “New Year – New You” thing. I didn’t want to begin 2020 by overwhelming myself with lists, to do’s, and targets that I will inevitably fail by the 6th of January. I have been thinking about this and is New Year’s Day really that good a day to start being the new you? I’m not saying people can’t change, we can, and there is always something we can do to better ourselves. I’m saying that the 1st of January might not be the best day to start. We’re likely to be slightly hungover on this day, with a house that is filled with stilton, fancy biscuits, after eight mints and seven types of gin, when for breakfast you don’t really fancy a green smoothie but would rather have a snowball?  

It’s cold outside, dark and grey all the time and I’d rather be reading, curled up on the sofa, in the warm, or working our way through all the Christmas telly we’ve recorded. I’m very unenthused about putting on my trainers and power walking through the meadows at this point in the year. It’s just not going to happen so I’m not going to set myself up for failure.

In my writing sessions in January we’ve written letters and reflected upon 2019 of our highs and lows and what we’ve learnt and a letter to the coming year of what we might do and we might hope for. In our group discussions one participant mentioned reading an article that it was better to start resolutions in Septembers, as you’ve had your summer holiday (cocktails in the garden at 4pm and such) and you’re back at work, and children are despatched back to school or university and normal service resumes. It’s the start of a new school year and the weather is warm enough still to get any exercise routines begun. It’s a thought if I don’t get myself organised in the next few months.

I was interested to read about the Gaelic festival of Imbolc – a festival on the 1st of February  that marks the end of winter, a time of change when the nights become lighter and we begin thoughts of venturing back outside as spring appears. We dust of our winter cobwebs (spring cleaning anyone?) and blink into the pale sun. Perhaps this might be a better time to start those resolutions. We are all back at work after the Christmas break and routines are back in full swing, we’ve settled slowly into the New Year. There are a few things I’d like to do, projects to start, books to be written, weight to be lost, skills to learn but I’ve decided not to turn myself into knots trying to do them all and feel disappointed when they don’t come to fruition. I’m just going to be more accepting of myself, faults and all and that’s my new year’s resolution.

P and Q are for Peace & Quiet

Sometime ago, my husband was at work and my daughter was at school. I was working from home and all was quiet. In my office and it was so peaceful, the nothing but the sound of the click and whirr of the heater beside me, the slow roar of cars outside, the clock on my desk ticking rhythmically and the tippity tap of the keyboard as I typed these words.

I was very aware of the sounds around me as I planned a writing for relaxation workshop on the theme of peace and quiet, it was a bright wintery day and I was very content in my own space. As I researched I read a book called “The Little Book of Quiet – Finding a Mindful Balance” edited by Tiddy Rowan. It’s been quite a revelation and I’ve learnt some things about myself that I didn’t quite realise before, that I am an introvert. I notice how calm, relaxed, and grounded I am when I have had time to be alone with my thoughts, writing, working, planning, seeking solace in solitude, not everyone likes solitude but we can all benefit from a time of peace and quiet.

As Tiddy writes “our lives, our world is becoming noisier while quietness is being eroded, our offices and homes getting louder as we fill our lives with more machinery and electronics we are bombarded by noise from traffic, machinery, building work, air traffic, mobile phones, computers and gadget, and what we hear affects our stress levels… often we are seeking ways of achieving a quieter life through mindfulness and other stress reducing practices”

As I wrote I consulted the world of social media for their ways of finding peace and quiet in a busy world. Here is what people came up with….thank you so much for sharing your thoughts…

It seemed there was a general consensus for being outside…
“I go outside and garden”
“Grey purring cats”
“Water, rivers, waterfalls and walking”
“A 5am walk in the wilderness with my dog”
“Dog walking…if you always go the same way you notice how the seasons change and it helps make sense of the little things in life being part of the bigger picture”
“Running – all I can think about is breathing!”
“I head to my greenhouse and talk to my plants”
“Watching people whilst sat in a coffee shop”
“Being in nature”
“Standing in a Scottish field with my red mare, I look at the trees and breathe the air and let everything go…no matter what is going on in my life I find quiet every morning in that field”
“In the corner with a book”
“In my busy university studio I put my headphones and play music – so the rest of the room disappears and I create my own space”
“I shut myself away in my studio and paint”
“Yoga and meditation”
“A nice warm bath with bubbles”
“A bike ride in the meadows”
“Sitting on the bed with a good book”
“I sit in a café whilst my boys are at their club, it is busy and loud but I study and it is peaceful and quiet in my head”
Tiddy suggests getting up half an hour earlier to find yourself a moment of quiet before a busy day and form a new habit, no emails or call or making lists, just walking, yoga, jogging or mindfulness, or as I like to do – perhaps spend some time writing out your thoughts so you are fresh for the day ahead. During times of quiet this writing can help unclutter your mind and let go of unwanted thoughts or help clarify them in your head.

Before I go I’d like to leave you with this quote taken from Walden by Henry David Thoreau and his thoughts on Solitude.

“Some of my pleasantest hours were during the long rain storms in the spring or fall which confined me to the house for the afternoon as well as the forenoon soothed by their ceaseless roar and pelting, when an early twilight ushered in a long evening in which many thoughts had time to take root and unfold themselves”

I hope you have your own way to finding some peace and quiet.

J is for Jólabókaflóð The Christmas Book Flood

It was on February 15th 2017, that I was able to achieve a lifelong dream of visiting Iceland and seeing the Northern Lights shine out for me on my 40th Birthday. It was a truly magical experience and since then I have been transfixed by the country, the people, the landscape and the customs. I’m almost homesick for a place that I only visited for three days.

Since then I have immersed myself in all things North (being a northern lass myself) Icelandic, Nordic and Sandi – and taken on board some of their ideas such as Cosy Fridays (more on this in another blog) and I have more scandi cookbooks than I will ever need – and I am currently working my way through Nordic Cooking – a huge tome that is now battered and covered in cooking stains (spiced honey cake is a winner in our house) and if it doesn’t have dill on it for dinner I don’t want it!

I’m intrigued by Nordic customs such Bolludagur – Choux Bun Day instead of Pancake Day anyone? I was delighted to read about Jólabókaflóð (Yule Book Flood) a charming tradition of the Icelandic Christmas Book Flood. Icelanders exchange books on Christmas Eve and spend the evening reading them. (Can we do this here please?)

It is a custom that started during World War II where imports were very restricted – limiting gift giving ideas – but paper  and books weren’t rationed so were easier to come by so the tradition of exchanging books arose as a result. So lovely. More often than not I’ll buy books for friends and family as Christmas gifts and have told them “if I love you I’ll buy you a book” and adore perusing book shops to find a book that suits the recipient. I love reading and receiving books – with a text message from my brother last week “It’s that time of year – what weird/arty book do you want this time?”

As my love for all things Nordic continues I have read only books with such theme, or are set somewhere north, or delve into Norse mythology – having had my very own mini Nordic book flood my reading list this year has included:

North by Bronte Aurell

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

Ragnarok by AS Byatt

The Gospel of Loki
The Testament of Loki
RuneMarks all by Joanne Harris

The Summer Book by Tove Jansson

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

The Seal Woman’s Gift by Sally Magnusson

Names for the Sea by Sarah Moss

Icelandic Folk Legends
The Little Book of the Hidden People both by Alda Sigmundsdóttir

I also have The 100 year old Man… Volsung and The Winter Book on my shelves to read in the New Year. I’m looking forward to catching Neil Gaimans’ “Norse Mythology” on Radio 4 over Christmas. I have really enjoyed my reading this year and was quite bereft upon finishing the series by Joanne Harris… so please if you have any scandi/Nordic reading suggestions for me please do let me know!

L is for Listening

The Art of Active Listening
As part of our recent Associates Away Day delivered by Katherine Brown – Founding Director of Beauty and Utility Arts (a Leicestershire based social enterprise working with older people. …… you can read all the good work we do here…) we were given a presentation on Active Listening by Rob Hunter Chair of Leicester Ageing Together.

I found it incredibly valuable both professionally and on a personal level and really wanted to share this experience.

Rob began by saying that all of us need to be heard and really listened to, going on to explain what makes a good listener & a bad one and how we can all be better listeners.

A good listener
• Focuses on the person speaking
• Acknowledges and affirms
• Allows for silence & thinking time
• Really listens to what is actually being said
• Doesn’t offer advice
• Asks open questions
• Doesn’t judge
• Uses good body language and good eye contact
• Listens more than talks
• Uses empathy

A bad listener
• Appears distracted
• Interrupts
• Is task orientated
• Asks closed questions

He also explained the differences between men and women in regard to their listening – Women just want to be heard and don’t necessarily want their problem solved whereas Men just want to solve the problem. Made so much sense to me!

In pairs we undertook a role play where one of us had to listen & not speak whilst the other discussed a problem they were having issues with. I listened to my colleague and smiled and nodded – it was very hard not to interject with a “oh that happened to me….or I know …” but the more my colleague spoke the more I listened and she was able to – in her own way resolve the issue she was working through. I wonder if had I interjected – would she have come up with the solution herself?

Heres a useful link I came across on Mindful Listening... that you might find interesting.

As a writer I find people’s stories and what they have to say so thought-provoking, so taking on board my active listening guidance I’ve listened and learnt a lot more when delivering my writing for wellbeing sessions. For example… a woman in a recent workshop spoke of her dreams of buying a static caravan, another participant spoke of flying to Costa Rica for the holiday of a lifetime, another talked of returning from years in Spain, and another of their time as a gardener – naming all the flowers he loved…. By listening more I was given momentary glimpses into these people’s lives. I find it so interesting what people share, when they are allowed to speak and be heard.
So listen more – you never know what you might hear.

M is for Mindful Moments

There is always so much to do isn’t there? It often gets overwhelming. We (when I say we I mean me!) rush around trying to get everything done and finished, so we can cross it off our lists and start the next thing…finishing one task and another three fall into its place. It can all get a bit much. It’s overwhelming and my internal chatter is continuous and my mind is full.

I am a keen advocate for mindfulness and its many benefits. I deliver writing for mindfulness and relaxation workshops and encourage others to incorporate mindfulness into their everyday lives. I know the benefits of writing, to alleviate the constant racing thoughts and mind chatter and finding calm but we don’t always have time to sit and write when everything is in a constant whirlwind. I know I always feel better having written a few pages of thoughts first thing in a morning but today I wasn’t able to. I rushed headlong into the day and today mindfulness found me.
After the school run I was rushing around the kitchen, trying to put away shopping, make soup, fill the dishwasher, wipe the cooker, fill the dishwasher, sort the washing and drying…you know how it is, trying to do everything, not finishing anything, not knowing where to begin and generally getting into a bit of a mess.

So I stopped and thought how I can make this all a bit more bearable, and decided to listen to the radio. I tapped the BBC Radio App on my phone and thought I’d combine two things… chores and my children’s book research. I began to type in the word Iceland (my children’s story has nordic themes and is set in world of gnomes and trolls) the first thing that came up was Ice Mountain and I tapped to listen thinking it was a children’s story. It wasn’t…it was a documentary about Icebergs. I couldn’t quite concentrate on the programme whilst clattering around doing chores so I stopped what I was doing, closed my eyes, leant on the kitchen counter and listened. For the 28 minutes of the programme I lost myself in the words, the voices, and the tones, and unusual names, sounds of waves crashing and creaks of icebergs.
It was not something I would usually pick to listen to, but when it finished I was refreshed and renewed – felt like I was awake after a short sleep. Everything had slowed down for me and the mind chatter was quiet. I was able to finish my chores having had a moment of mindfulness and breathing space. My mind a bit clearer, I came up with an idea for a blog series – thoughts about finding mindful moments. My ideas for themes include listening and sounds, experiences, writing, slowing down and the outdoors and nature. I thought this blog would help me to incorporate more mindfulness into my everyday life and be useful for others wanting to embrace mindfulness. I do hope you’ll join me. Have a lovely restful weekend and don’t forget to take a mindful moment for yourself.

C is for Connecting

These notes were written a while ago whilst on a train to london….
My hands are cold. It is difficult to write. My hand feels clumsy, numb and over large. It is late November and I am on a train to London. I use the squeaky plastic fold away tray as my desk for the next hour as the train lumbers along jostling me from side to side.

I was very nervous and anxious at the train station so my first instinct was to write. To write it all down and make the worry dissolve as it usually does when I sit down to write. I was waiting at the station, my stomach not on my side today – doing something strange (strange for me) it felt like it was a pancake being flipped over, flung from side to side then shaken. Horrid nerves. Anxiety. What is this feeling? Why is boarding a train so scary for me? People do it every day – I’ve done it weekly for a time, it was my routine – it was nothing. I wasn’t fazed it was just how I got to work. So why is it different today? Is this the panic of finding my seat on the train in the right coach, will I have to move someone sat down and already settled in. It is such a scramble. How do people do this every day? The heart pounding leap to find the door, and set foot onto the carriage as the whistle blows.

I am on the train, my feet are also cold and my nose is streaming. I feel like my body lets me down as soon as I do something out of my comfort zone. Why is that? It is a normal nerve reaction? A normal response? It’s not fight or flight is it? Flight – my body telling me not to do something, warning me perhaps? Does everyone feel like this when they are travelling? Or is it just me? Is it a symptom of getting older? Getting more anxious about everyday things? I never worry about getting the bus as it’s something I do regularly – so why now boarding a train?

I’m wondering now if I have always been like this. My family have always said I was a good traveller – I was. Perhaps it’s because I’m alone – I’m rarely alone these days with a husband and little one in tow. I’ve been relishing this time to be alone – so why the anxiety? I wanted a weekend of peace and quiet and now I don’t feel so good.

I was stood on the platform looking all around me, for a friendly face or kindred spirit, a nod of encouragement or a small smile – just something to let me know that I’m not alone and “hey its ok, we all do this journey all the time” Then there she was – a friend and fellow school Mum in a bright red coat and twinkling eyes peering at me as if to say “is that you?” A connection – a brief murmur of small talk and I instantly was lifted. The train arrived and still but rather less flustered I found my seat and said out loud “found it” the lady in the seat next to me nods in acknowledgment and continues to tap away at her lap top.

I settle down and begin to write, my mind wanders – do we as humans need connections to feel safe? The woman next to me is pleasant but quietly reassuring “it’s only an hour and we make good time” I feel safe. My friend is on the same train and I feel safe. I note that that morning when buying coffee I was extra chatty to staff, saying hello with an extra smile, just wanting to make a connection. As I’m never usually alone in public (I work from home alone and am quite content all the time) I don’t have time to chat, I’m with my daughter and we rush from one shop to the next, tending to my daughter’s needs. So being alone in public I have the luxury of worrying or overthinking and perhaps that’s just it, perhaps because I’m not usually alone the need for connections is always as prevalent?

Do we worry more as we age, or if we spend time alone? Or is it just me with an hour of quiet and I’m using it by overthinking? As I write I calm slightly. I decide to sit back and listen to the sounds, plan my visit and my things to do list. I note that we are never really alone anymore with our thoughts are we? With our phones in our pockets and social lives (Social media lives) a mere click or swipe away …I did think I would be better at this solitude thing, perhaps it only works when I am at home. Are we as people meant to be alone? I don’t think so – I think there is a basic human need for connection, to feel safe, accepted, happy, and content, in a partnership or collection of amazing friends. I continue to write as the journey progresses and all is well.